Author's Note: I have no idea what unholy creature possessed me to write this, since I usually never write stories like this one. But for some reason I got this inexplicable urge, and I just couldn't resist. Maybe it's because I was listening to that song Russian Roulette (so beautiful, but so sad). Anyway, this story is pretty depressing, but I don't want to spoil the end for you, so I'll just warn you that if you're not into mega-depressing stories, then you probably shouldn't read this. Okay, it's not that depressing, but still. You've been warned. (BTW, I don't know why, but I would suggest listening to the song Off With Your Head by Mz Ann Thropik, Running Up That Hill by Placebo, or Russian Roulette by Rihanna while you read this). I love reviews, PMs, anything like that. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Inception, or the lyrics I'm about to post below this

It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know, know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, It's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
Say, If I only could, oh...

Running Up That Hill,

Placebo


Arthur could've sworn he was imagining it, but somehow Ariadne seemed different. He couldn't explain it either. It was like when someone asked you to define a word, and you knew what it meant, but somehow you couldn't put it into words, like technically or emphasis. But somehow he knew she was different. And oddly enough, it created a clawing feeling of distress in his stomach. He hadn't seen the petite architect in months, nearly a year, since the Fischer job. At that time, the original plan had been that she was just a temporary architect, a last-minute hire. She did have college after all, and she was considerably young to be involved in something as dangerous as shared dreaming. He had originally been somewhat against it when he first met her. He had honestly thought she was still in high school. But as he worked with her more, she proved her talent and ability as an architect. He knew in the back of his mind that she would someday return to shared dreaming. She wouldn't be able to resist it, now that she had gotten a taste of what it was like to do something so exhilirating, so dangerous. But somehow he still worried for her slightly.

"Ariadne, are you okay?" He found himself stumbling over his words slightly, something that he almost never did.

She looked up at him, her gently spiraling brown hair sweeping back slightly to reveal her cheekbones. Her small lips pulled back to a faint smile. "Um, yeah, yeah. I'm fine."

"Oh." He nodded, looking away.

There was something wrong with her. He couldn't place it, couldn't name it, but he knew something was wrong. It was so agonizing, the feeling of knowing but yet somehow not knowing, that feeling of something being on the tip of his tongue. He despised that feeling with a passion. It made him feel like he wasn't in control. And he despised that feeling even more. A blood-curtling, stomach-churning hatred. What was it about her that was out of place? She looked fine, other than the deep tinges of purple staining the normally fair skin beneath her eyes. She hadn't been sleeping. But that was characteristic of an architecture student. He was just worrying himself. But it was still something to keep watch over, since lack of sleep could also point to something far more deadly since she had been involved in shared dreaming.


The next few weeks went by, and he still knew that somehow something was wrong. It was that aching, gnawing sense of discomfort. He couldn't stand it. He wanted so badly to say something to someone, but somehow something was stopping him. Maybe it was the fact that in all honesty nothing seemed to be wrong with her. Her building had become even better than he ever thought possible. Every new dreamscape she created for the job continued to awe him in the way they contradicted the rules and conventions of reality. But there was still that tingling fear inside of him. He wasn't sure if Eames or Yusuf sensed it. Yusuf was too busy trying to create a new compound for their latest Extraction. Eames, when he wasn't learning about one of the mistresses of their mark which he would have to forge, was reminiscing almost nostalgically about the very girl who had introduced him to shared dreaming. It was only Cobb who also seemed to notice. His brown eyes seemed to watch her warily, also noticing also noting that there was something uncharacteristic about her.

Finally, Arthur got the courage to speak up.

"Cobb, is it just me, or does Ariadne seem different to you?" Arthur said, pressing his hands against the edge of the table and staring at Cobb.

His friend shot him a look of surprise, as if he were shocked to learn that he too had noticed something odd about Ariadne. "Yeah, now that you mention it, I have." He said, sliding his hands into his pockets and glancing at Ariadne, who was working on a sketch over at a table on the other side of the warehouse. "You should definitely keep an eye on her, even if it could just be nothing. This is too familiar, the way she seems different.

"What do you mean?" Arthur said quickly, though somehow, in the pit of his stomach, in the deepest, darkest depths of his mind, he knew.

Cobb pressed his lips together and looked at the floor with his hand clenched, then looked straight at Arthur. "She reminds me exactly of Mal when we got back from Limbo."


Ariadne quietly shut the door to her shoebox of an apartment and stepped inside, dull sheats of light streaming in through slits in the blinds of her windows. She sighed, and bit down hard onto her bottom lip, so hard she could feel the hard, chapped skin stinging in pain. It stung so much salty tears developed in the corners of her eyes and blurred her vision.

Oh, God. Another agonizingly painful day. Every day of her life had been slow and agonizing ever since the Fischer job. It was the emptiness she felt, the feeling of being so alone, so hopeless. She had been swallowed by an endless pit of sadness, hopelesness. At first, she had been just convinced it was a mild case of loneliness. But as time progressed, slowly, painfully, torturously, the depression didn't alleviate. Soon, life became like an invisible prison without bars. She felt like she was trapped in a box, a windowless, doorless box with no way out. On the outside, she had managed to maintain her normal facade, to pretend that everything was perfectly fine. When her mother called to check up on how she was doing, she always managed to sound perfectly happy, like a normal, sane twenty-two-year-old architecture student who was enjoying the beauty of Paris. But on the inside, there was a gnawing, icy pain that ate away at her every day. Sometimes she found herself lying on the bed, with her cold knees pulled up to her slowly receding abdomen, her trembling hands balled into fists and pressed against her painfully tightened chest, and her entire body convulsing violently as salty tears slid down her freckled cheeks. She would choke on her own tears for hours, praying for the pain to go away. The pain was so intense, so blinding and white-hot, she was still perplexed by how she had managed to pretend to be sane and happy for so long. She longed to see the beauty and sweetness of life again, to feel the exhiliration of happiness. Happiness felt like a distant, dissolving memory. Nothing int

And then she finally realized why she felt so empty...

She was living in a dream.

They had never awoken from the dream.

Somehow, someway, they were still asleep, probably lying in hospital beds with tubes and wires sticking out of their bodies.

And she needed to escape.

She needed to get out.

But she was scared. She was scared for some reason. Scared that maybe she wasn't living in a dream, that it was simply her mind playing tricks on her. But then she got scared that it was a dream, and that her "common sense" was just another way for her to stay trapped within the dream. Also there was the guilt. The guilt of knowing that even if she killed herself and was released from the imprisonment, there was still the guilt of knowing that the rest of the team would be trapped. EVen though she didn't know them that well, she knew she wouldn't be able to live with herself. She wouldn't be able to live with the fact of knowing that she would be free, and Arthur wouldn't.

Arthur.

She hated herself for letting a simple, tiny kiss lead to a passionate, irrevocable love. A love for a man she knew would never love her. He had higher standards than her, he would never see her the way she saw him. He was elegant, classy, intelligent. And she was too young for him. She was just a petite, worthless architecture student.

Ariadne couldn't stand it anymore. The emotions, swirling within her. They were building up frighteningly and threateningly to explode at any minute. She ran to the the kitchen, a small, tiny kitchen with a dingy refrigerator covered in half-finished sketches of buildings. She grabbed the handle of a drawer and jerked it open, then started sweeping through it in search of something sharp, anything.

But all she was pens, pencils, markers, paper, and other useless paraphernalia. Her heart thumped against her tightened ribs painfully, and she rushed to the bathroom, where she jerked open another drawer, and felt warmth travel through her violently quaking body as she spotted exactly what she needed.

A razor blade.

Slowly, carefully, gingerly she reached for it, lightly pressing her twitching fingertips against it's smooth, pink surface. Her breath caught painfully in her throat as the consequences of her choice flashed through her mind. She couldn't believe she was doing this... All her life, she had heard about cutting. It sounded so terrifying. Yet now, it seemed like a sweet release. She wouldn't kill herself yet, she wouldn't awaken herself just yet.

It would be too blunt.

No.

She would slowly ease herself into it, she would accustom herself to the physical pain. This was different from normally killing herself in the dream world. She was going to awaken herself from a dream that she had taken on as her own world, and so had Eames, Cobb, Yusuf, and Arthur. Maybe she would be able to save them, too.

Ariadne kneeled down, not caring about the agonizing pain and sharp pressure that shot through her knees as she pressed them against the tile floor. She inhaled, closed her eyes, and dragged the razor against her arm.

Sweet Release.


I decided to go ahead and make this a two-shot, and the second part should be up soon. Tell me what you think, I love reviews almost as much as I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt.